Thursday, August 28, 2014

Live Classical Music In & Around Raleigh, September 2014

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12:35 PM

New Music Raleigh at the Hopscotch Festival

Raleigh


FUTURESHOCK, a new work by Brooklyn composer William Britelle, played by New Music Raleigh as part of this year's Hopscotch Festival. Hot! Thurs 9/4 at 10 PM in Fletcher Opera Theatre at Duke Energy Center. tickets

FOUR SEASONS CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL IN THE TRIANGLE, a co-production of ECU'S Four Seasons Festival and the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild. Features pianist Gilles Vonsatelle, violinists Ara Grigorian and Erin Keefe, violist Hsin-Yun Huang, and cellist David Requiro playing  Brahms and Dohányi. Sun 9/14 at 3 PM at St. Michael's Episcopal Church. tickets

HAPPY VALLEY PALS - MUSIC AND DANCE FROM 19TH C. AMERICA, opener to Raleigh Chamber Music Guild's Sights and Sounds season in honor of this year's World of Bluegrass conference. NC old-time string band Happy Valley Pals (violin, guitar, banjo, and bass) plays African-American & Anglo-American bluegrass and dance music, as well as music born out of the interaction between the two in the 19th century. Sun. 9/28 at 3 PM at North Carolina Museum of Art. tickets

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Live Classical Music In & Around Raleigh, 8/11-8/31

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10:29 AM
Ciompi Quartet, or parts of it, in Duke Gardens 8/12
At the end of May, I got a call from a beloved former vocal coach saying that someone had dropped out of an opera program he was working at and asking if I could take on her role. The role was Beth in Mark Adamo's Little Women. It represented my first chance in a long while to sing a role in a fully-staged production, my first opportunity to do it in a work by a living composer, and [SPOILERS] my first whack at a classically melodramatic soprano death scene. I took it, of course, and spent a delightful summer with Opera Breve, having one of the best musical experiences of my life.

 The flip side, naturally, was that my blog imploded. But I'm back! Hope you all had a wonderful summer--let's get back to business.

Raleigh


RUDDIGORE, a Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera presented by White Iris Light Opera, 8/21 at 7:30-9:30 in Jones Auditorium at Meredith College. Suggested $5 donation. info

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Performer Profiles: Violist Katie Miller (audio)

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7:49 PM
Katie Miller is an intriguing lady--she's lived in North Carolina, California, Colombia, and Taiwan, and her diverse musical interests include Bach, new music, and a dream of someday contributing to the libretto of an opera. She's well-traveled, but we can't talk about her career as a professional violist without tipping a hat to the quality of music education in North Carolina. The Sanderson HighUNCG, and ECU alumna gigs with NCO, the NCS, and and the newly-formed Triangle String Quartet. Way back before the best surprise ever forced me to take the summer off from blogging (more on that next post!), Katie and I sat down at Café de los Muertos and she shared her insights on Raleigh's expanding classical culture, music's power to cure all awkward teenage ills, and what's weird about wedding gigs. 

How did you choose the viola as your instrument?

When I was a kid, my dad was a college music professor, first in South America, then in Taiwan. When we left Taiwan and moved to Raleigh, I was feeling a lot of culture shock. I’d never lived in the United States before, and so all of a sudden to be in a public middle school, it’s kind of crazy, just having to find who you are and what your place is.
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Monday, June 9, 2014

#musicmonday: Songs Our Mothers Taught Us (video)

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5:33 PM
This photo was taken at the wedding of my great-great-grandparents, Adolf and Paulina Drewitz, in Warsaw, Poland in 1896. She was five months pregnant--check out that terrifying corset action. Miraculously, the baby boy who would grow up to be my mom's "Grandpa D" was born alive and whole. He came to the states with his parents in 1900, survived their scandalous divorce and the loss of his dad a year later, lived for polka and early Broadway music, married a first-generation French-American girl, and raised a daughter who played the piano in a badass WWII-era all-girl swing band.

I've posted before about my mom's and my connection to Polish music and the performing we've gotten to do in Poland--and I've even mentioned the revamp of our Polish-American program that we'll be performing, locally and on the other side of the pond, next season. A Chopin program--which is how we initially billed our show, even though it also contained Gershwin and Kern like Grandpa D listened to--is a pretty natural choice for any pianist + collaborator. But the seed of our deeply personal program was really planted when we started investigating our Polish roots around 2006. [more + VIDEO after the jump]

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Classical Newbies of Raleigh

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10:01 AM
A sold out house = a beautiful sight
A few months ago, as the San Diego Opera fiasco unfolded, I read this post on the blog of Kim Pensinger Witman, fabulous director of Wolf Trap Opera.

It took me over an hour tonight to read all of the various outpourings on my Facebook feed. [ ... ] The vehemence and emotion is overwhelming. It almost seems more violent than during last fall’s NYCO death spiral. Perhaps we can no longer as easily hide behind the 2008 recession as the primary reason [opera houses are failing]. Perhaps we're finally being pushed over the edge.

Yikes. But good news--for opera, for San Diego, for Raleigh & for readers of this blog--after the jump.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

#musicmonday: Bella figlia dell'amore from Rigoletto with Singers' Circle (video)

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6:46 PM
Aaaand we're back! Since y'all got to know Monifa a couple weeks ago, thought it might be fun to share a video of us singing together on this Monday. This is the famous quartet from Verdi's Rigoletto, performed with tenor Joshua Allen and baritone Jeffrey Carlson at Singers' Circle's informal opera scenes concert last summer. [video after the jump]
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Short Hiatus 5/19-5/25

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7:41 AM
Lovely Readers,

Non-musical life is a little crazy this week, so I'm going to sit this one out and come back next week, when things have calmed down, in order to bring you the highest-quality content possible. In the meantime, I must ask--how excited are you for Dido and Aeneas tonight & tomorrow? Or Beethoven's 5th on Saturday? Or Carmina Burana next week? Can't wait to discuss in about 7 days--Carmina is possibly the only other work that could inspire a review featuring a diagram.

Love,
Andrea

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mahler 3 with the North Carolina Symphony

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6:48 PM
"Bimm bamm" is German for "ding dong," if you didn't know. Mahler's third symphony features a women's chorus and a boychoir. While the women sing sweet, jolly folk-inspired melodies about St. Peter and the angels, the little boys punctuate every phrase with bimms and bamms on the strong beats. It's like the most sophisticated German version of Frere Jacques you could imagine.

My alma mater, Oklahoma City University, performed movements from Mahler's third when I was a freshman. OCU was bursting at the seams with fabulous 18-to-22-year-old musicians, but a boychoir we had none. Instead, a small group of sopranos from the women's choir was co-opted to sing the boys' line. Even in the best of circumstances, it's tough to hear a group of children--or, ahem, skillful child-imitators--over a Mahler-sized orchestra. I spent the performance up in that choir loft straight-up BELTING those bimms. (more after the jump)
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Performer Profiles: Mezzo-soprano Monifa Harris (video)

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5:12 AM
Monifa Harris has a rich, smoky, velvety voice that's impossible to describe without sounding like a wine snob salivating over a cabernet. Based in Durham, she sings locally, internationally, and in New York. She recently appeared as the mezzo soloist in Tippett's A Child of Our Time with the North Carolina Master Chorale, toured Greece with a diverse program including arias, spirituals, and Greek folk song, and coached and understudied the plum role of Carmen with Sing Through Central in a readthrough overseen by the Metropolitan Opera Guild. But Monifa's also known to lots of local musicians as the founder of Singers' Circle, a Durham organization that puts on concerts a few times a year and, in between, functions as a place for Triangle-based singers to network, coach rep, and receive feedback. We met up last week at Beyù Caffè, where Monifa had a ton to say about her performing and her passion for creating community among musicians in the Triangle. If you are interested in the growth of classical music in Raleigh, this is a lady you need to be talking to.
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Live Art Music In & Around Raleigh 5/12-5/18

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5:44 AM
I could not be sadder that I missed this

The Triangle keeps surprising me.

This week is another where I'm tempted to comment that we're light on classical programming, it's the summer, etc., etc. However, last week--and lots of other weeks when I had no such thoughts--I put a lean post up and then shortly found out about a fabulous concert I coulda-woulda-shoulda included (and attended, and reviewed) by an ensemble I wasn't familiar with.

E.g.:
 - Just stumbled across the poster to the left while chilling at Elmo's with my sister late last week. Who is going to give Voce Camerata and Consort their award for best concert title evar?!

 - At the symphony on Friday (more about that later,) I struck up a conversation with the music lovers behind me, mentioned my Polish song project, and learned that they'd recently heard a super-sophisticated Gorecki program from SONAM (Singers of New and Ancient Music).

 - Other missed opportunities so far include programs from the Raleigh Civic Symphony, North Carolina Master Chorale, et cetera.

Along with the Mallarmé Chamber Players, these groups are now on my radar (and on the Go Hear Some Music page!), so future offerings will make it into future posts for sure. Do me a favor, dear reader, and if you know of any musician or group whose performances you're not seeing here, enlighten me. Now, after the jump, the classical happenings for this week--that I know of.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

#musicmonday: Violinist David McKnight at the Durham Farmers' Market (video)

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8:43 PM
Eventually I'm going to turn quirky venues into a series. After I've profiled a bunch of unorthodox live venues for classical music and how audiences react to hearing it there, I'm going to do a "Wishlist" post--places I think should host some art song or chamber music because they're so visually beautiful or acoustically on-point or could draw just the right crowd.1

I was wandering through the Durham Farmers' Market on Saturday, Belgian waffle in one hand and some chard in the other, thinking about how happy I always feel when I'm there. "Of course!" I realized. "This would be the perfect place for anything some quirky classical." A contemporary steelpan-influenced percussion ensemble? On the stage opposite the food trucks? Come on.

I began to scarf my waffle even faster so I could gain a free hand, get out my phone, and add the Farmer's Market to the list . . . when I heard a violin. [more after the jump]
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Friday, May 2, 2014

Live Art Music In & Around Raleigh 5/5-5/11

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7:40 AM
Mezzo Susan Platt, NC Symphony's soloist

Raleigh

GRANT CONDUCTS MAHLER (Grant as in Grant Llewellyn, that charismatic showman who usually conducts the NC Symphony, Mahler as in you know), featuring the Raleigh Boychoir, NC Master Chorale Women's Choir, and mezzo-soprano Susan Platts in the composer's Symphony No. 3, one of my all-time faves. 5/9 and 5/10 at 8 PM, Meymandi Concert Hall. Pre-concert talk by Dr. Jonathan Kramer of NC State in Swalin Lobby at 7. tickets
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Interview with Composer Ben Daniels

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6:08 PM
It's clear when you listen to Ben Daniels' sophisticated yet broadly-appealing compositions that he knows what he's doing--but he's reconciled himself to the idea that he'll always feel like he doesn't.


Daniels started out as an undergrad percussion major, delved into minimalism as he began to compose, and now pursues his Ph.D. at Duke--where, among other things, he assistant-teaches Hip Hop and Rap Appreciation. All along, he's devoted a lot of thought to how what he's doing should be done. Talk to him about his craft and those thoughts take on a life of their own, showing up as imagined conversations between Daniels and hypothetical detractors and forming the lens through which he explains his work.

Recently I continued my tour of all the coffee shops in Durham series of composer interviews and caught up with Ben at Mad Hatter's.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Performer Profiles: A Series (and a breeding ground for crazy schemes)

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5:29 AM

This is a pretty picture of a euphonium
This blog got me a paid gig within 10 days of my first post.


Marketing my performances wasn't even really my goal in starting to write here--nicest darn surprise I've gotten in years. My mom and I have retooled our Polish-American program to include more Chopin, more Gershwin, and more music that's personal and specific to our family history. It's now called Songs Our Mothers Taught Us, and we'll be bringing it to several venues in Poland and to the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex during the 2014-2015 season. Hurray!

I'm hoping it can get you one, too. (more after the jump)


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Friday, April 25, 2014

Live Art Music In & Around Raleigh 4/28-5/4

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9:31 AM

William Henry Curry, resident NC Symphony conductor
Raleigh

- STRAUSS & MOZART, a fun light program featuring opera & operetta overtures and waltzes from the NC Symphony, 5/2 at 12 PM, Meymandi Concert Hall. tickets


- BEAU CHANT, an evening of 19th-c. art song themed around the museum's Rodin exhibit featuring mezzo Shannon French, soprano Erin Matson Murdock, and collaborative pianist Margaret Singer of the Paris Opera's Atélier Lyrique, 5/4 at 3 PM, NC Museum of Art's East Building Auditorium. tickets $12 at door

Durham

- ROMEO AND JULIET, from Carolina Ballet with critically-acclaimed choreography & Prokofiev's gorgeous score, 5/3 at 8 PM, DPAC. tickets

Chapel Hill

- NC OPERA AT THE SPRING GARDEN TOUR, featuring soprano Andrea Edith Moore, 5/3 at 3:30 and 4:30 PM, UNC Botanical Garden. tickets 

Apex

- IT'S SPRING, featuring a new work for saxophone and piano by Apex-based composer Karel Husa as well as John Williams' arrangement of "'Tis a Gift to be Simple" for President Obama's inauguration, 5/4 at 3 PM, Halle Cultural Arts Center. tickets

FREE

- OCTAVIA, Meredith College's piano ensemble playing transcriptions for two pianos eight hands of the Egmont and Coriolan Overtures of Beethoven, an unusual set of pieces for piano six hands by Jean Cras, and several pieces for piano four hands by Amy Beach. 5/1 at 7:30 PM, Carswell Recital Hall. free

- SUSAN MOESER, organist of the UNC faculty, playing Messiaën, Bach, Couperin, and others, 5/1 at 7:30 PM, Chapel of the Cross. free

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Quirky Venues: Fullsteam Brewery (AND VIDEO OF LITTLE BABIES DANCING)

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7:25 AM
Who goes to see live contemporary classical music? Generally not little babies.

If you are a little baby, then like the rest of the little baby population, you may find yourself put off by the solemn atmosphere of the concert hall. The cerebral parlor tricks of modern composers may rankle against the anti-intellectual sentiment so typically held by the little babies of today.

But of course, contemporary classical can't be put into a box like that. Plenty of it is poppy and fun. In the constant search for new, more diverse & younger art music audiences, sometimes half the battle is won if you can just bring the music to new people instead of trying to do the work of convincing them they'll like it beforehand. [hilarious video after the jump]
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Live Art Music In and Around Raleigh 4/14-4/27

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8:31 AM
Benjamin Grosvenor at Duke 4/27, photo credit Patrick Allen

Raleigh

BEETHOVEN PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 with Yefim Bronfman and the NC Symphony, Program also includes the composer's Coriolan overture and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6.  4/25 and 4/26 at 8PM, Meymandi Concert Hall. tickets

RACHMANINOV DIVINE LITURGY sung by the NC Master Chorale (a cappella! in Old Slavonic!). 4/26 at 8 PM in Binkley Chapel, 4/27 at 3 PM, Broughton High School Auxiliary Gym. tickets

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Interview with Composer D. Edward Davis

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7:59 PM
D. Edward Davis (that's how it's spelled, he told me, but it's pronounced "Eddie"), a Ph.D. candidate in Composition at Duke, is working on a brass piece for this year's Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice and a one-man opera about ghost towns. Determinedly individual, he composes music built around field recordings and studded with pockets of silence and electronic sound. When we met up at Cocoa Cinnamon last week, he was eager to share his thoughts about about the importance of silence in music, the connections between performance and visual art, and the role of the artist in society. He got started before I could even break out my scripted questions. I set my iPhone on the table and he asked how I planned to record the interview.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Live Art Music in & Around Raleigh 4/14-4/20

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12:00 PM

bu-ku: delicious food that also makes you feel fancy
Raleigh

     - SOUNDBITES AT THE PUB, featuring musicians from the NC Symphony playing Ysayë's violin concerto and a Mendelssohn string quartet while you eat an ambrosial 3-course dinner, 4/14 at 6 PM, at bu-ku (official watering hole of the NC Opera chorus). tickets menu

     - JAZZ AT NC STATE, featuring the school's multiple jazz combos, 4/15 at 7 PM in Frank Thompson Hall, tickets

 

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Amadeus at Leviathan Theatre Co. Pt. 2

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4:49 PM
From the program: amazing masks from Kurtzman & Deedler
Read part 1 of this review

There's a kind of weird for weird's sake that grates. The Leviathan Theatre Co.'s Amadeus flirts with it, but is saved by two things.

The first is the handling of the supporting characters. They're animals. (See picture to the left.)

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Amadeus at Leviathan Theatre Co.

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6:34 PM
I'm throwing up Part 1 of this review before the rest is done so that I can tell you before the day ends to go see Amadeus. (Edit: Read Part 2 here!) There are three more shows, and Saturday (4/12) is already sold out. If you like theater, classical music, and/or strange innovations and you're free on Thursday or Friday, GO.

As soon as I heard Leviathan was putting on Amadeus, I knew I was going to have to see it and write it up for the blog. While I always want music to remain firmly the focus here, I'm writing a play review and will likely write more because I like the idea of occasionally dipping into other cultural happenings around the Triangle. I like it because it's fun, and I like it because--amid all today's discussion of classical music's death possible mortal injury and how to stop the bleeding--I think one of the best things we can do is see it as more intersectional with other art forms. It's hard to think of a better marriage between classical music and theater than Peter Shaffer's play.

Also because Wolfie.

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Interview with Composer Jamie Keesecker

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8:14 AM
He also plays the accordion
His mom is a pianist, he dabbles in jazz bass, and he chose the French horn in middle school band after falling in love with John Williams's Star Wars scores--eclecticism is Jamie Keesecker's musical bread and butter. As a Ph.D. candidate in composition at Duke and co-creator of the score for a new touring ballet with the Dance Theatre of Harlem,
the composer builds musical mosaics from elements of jazz, classical chamber music, and electronic sound. But as the leader of the Duke New Music Ensemble [dnme], he also creates opportunities for other composers, with the idea that music should be fun and every compositional style should have a place at the table. We sat down for coffee at Parker and Otis this week, and Jamie answered some questions for me about his time in Durham, his creative process, and his music.
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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Live Art Music in & around Raleigh 4/7-4/15

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8:20 PM
UNC's Javanese-inspired Gamelan Nyai Saraswati
Get out your calendars; lots to hear this week:

     - AN IMPROVISATION RECITAL BY YURI YAMAMOTO, the Raleigh-based pianist and composer, 4/7 at 7:30 PM, Carswell Recital Hall at Meredith College. free

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Odds and Ends 3/31-4/6

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6:54 AM
     -Very positive and well-written reviews have continued to crop up for Rusalka

     - This was Dvořák's week: that production took place on Sunday 3/30, Monday 3/31 was the 113th anniversary of the opera's first performance, and on Tuesday 4/1 the composer would have celebrated his 173rd birthday somebody on Facebook totally got me with the most benign yet oddly specific April Fool's joke I've ever seen
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Singing in Rusalka with North Carolina Opera

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7:59 PM
Joyce El-Khoury as Rusalka, photo by Curtis Brown,  
© 2014 by North Carolina Opera

 Rusalka, which had its one, lonely showing on Sunday, was the fourth NC Opera show for which I've sung in the chorus. The others were, in order, Aïda, Così, and Bohème--all operas that I love, fantastic productions, and rehearsal processes I immensely enjoyed (I may or may not have cried tears of joy while sitting on the floor 10 yards from Angela Brown during her "O Patria Mia" in a staging rehearsal). But by the time each one closed, I was ready to see the back end of it. Not frantic, but ready--no matter how beautiful the music, it can get repetitive after a couple months. It's also always nice to be able to go home at the end of the day instead of rushing to rehearsal from the day job; and even nicer to eat something that doesn't come from the Jimmy John's equidistant between my day job & Meymandi.
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

yMusic plays Duke Ph.D. Composers at Motorco Music Hall

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6:29 PM
This week Durham was graced with the presence of "six hip virtuosi" (as they were deemed by Time Out NY)--a handful of musicians on the razor's edge of the newfangled classical music/popular music merge. yMusic is a sextet from New York, they comprise a nontraditional orchestration of string trio, flute, clarinet, and trumpet, and they not only play living classical composers; they've actually "inspired an expanding repertoire of work" both by these composers and by musicians important in the indie rock scene. And they all have really cute hipster hair.
yMusic, left to right: Hideaki Aomori, Clarice Jensen, CJ Camerieri, Rob Moose, Alex Sopp, Nadia Sirota; photo by Ilya Nikhamin via HuffPo
In other words, though the adjectives "new" and "young" and "hip" and "sexy" are often thrown around while yMusic is discussed, the group has little in common with the legion of doddering arts administrators tearing their hair out these days
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Dvořák + Mozart 4-EVR, or Upcoming Performances

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7:53 PM
My practice time the last couple weeks has been occupied by woodnymphery (Rusalka with North Carolina Opera, which is coming up Sunday 3/30) and the soprano solos from Mozart's Missa brevis in D, which I'll be singing with St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Raleigh on Easter Sunday.
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Amy Beach Festival at Meredith College Pt. 2

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5:47 PM


On to the repertoire and performances from last night's faculty concert of Amy Beach works at Meredith.

Soprano Jennifer Paschal sits right next to me in most rehearsals of the North Carolina Opera Chorus, but I had actually never heard her sing as a soloist until last night.
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Amy Beach Festival at Meredith College

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6:30 AM

Quick post: went last night to the first evening of the Amy Beach Festival at Meredith, featuring a fascinating talk by Dr. Susan Borwick of Wake Forest and beautiful renditions of 4 Beach songs and the famous piano quintet by Meredith faculty.

Borwick's talk illuminates a lot of interesting and lesser-known interesting factors at play in Beach's life, including Beach's synesthesia and the strange back-and-forth of her childhood.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Carolina Chocolate Drops with the NC Symphony

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9:08 PM
As a high school student in 2005, I scored the coolest Jan term internship EVER at the Arts-Based Elementary School in Winston-Salem. Their artist in residence at the time was Rhiannon Giddens, then (or then recently) a lyric coloratura soprano in the Opera Performance grad program at UNCG. I was musically obsessed with opera, so while I was coveting Rhiannon’s gorgeous, floating high notes, it barely registered with me that she also played the fiddle and banjo and was deeply involved in contra dancing and folk music. 

Following my internship, I remembered her for her ability to control the fourth-graders with the promise that those who behaved would hear her "sing a very high note while bending over backwards." Otherwise, I thought of her as a gifted classical singer who wasn't up to anything in the opera world that I was aware of. 

Then, of course:



Yup, it was THAT Rhiannon Giddens, of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who have since become the favorite old-fashioned Southern folk outfit of everyone in the world.

We went out last weekend to see the Drops in concert with the North Carolina Symphony.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

We are both on the cover of "Enormous Ego"

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9:16 PM
Apropos of yesterday's post, I'm reblogging this absolute gem from Hark, A Vagrant. Never gets old.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Chopin Birthday Festival in Winston-Salem

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7:17 PM
Weirdo adventurer convention at ChopinFest
Life in my family--growing up, calling to check in as an adult, listening to stories from before I was born--is all about crazy projects. My parents are schemers.

Let’s take the kids to Europe and all enroll in a French as a Foreign Language intensive alongside a bunch of zitty Dutch college kids so we can come back to the states and loudly discuss other restaurant patrons’ strange table manners in a language they won’t understand.

Let’s start our own record label. Let’s design our own house. It’s 1984! Let’s go on a concert tour of Colombia, but obviously let’s mostly hang out in Medellin.

In recent years, my parents have focused their shared weirdo-adventurer superpowers mostly on Chopin.
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